The Family Movie Guide should be used along with the Motion Picture Association of America rating system for selecting movies suitable for children. Only films rated G, PG or PG-13 are included in this weekly listing, along with occasional R-rated films that may have entertainment or educational value for older children with parental guidance.
Films are categorized as "recommended for family viewing," "recommended for family viewing with reservations" and "not recommended for family viewing," along with a description of content that led to that categorizing. Films that may not hold the attention of children will be issued a restless alert. Parents should think twice about taking children to these films for their comfort and that of other moviegoers.
Recommended for family viewing
BARNEY'S GREAT ADVENTURE (G) _ You don't really think Barney, Baby Bop and the gang would include any profanity, nudity, violence or sexual situations, do you? Definitely suited to the preschool set. Older audiences get a restless alert.
MY GIANT (PG) _ Children should enjoy much of this Billy Crystal farce, which has a light touch, mostly avoids adult humor and actually is quite juvenile (even the rare sexual remark) at times. Young children might be troubled by an unexpectedly serious turn in the final third, touching on unrequited love and premature death, although those themes are discreetly handled.
PAULIE (PG) _ The magical feeling that made Babe a classic is missing in this tale of a talking parrot on a cross-country trip to reunite with his owner. No nudity, sexual situations or violence, and only one profane remark from the mouth of co-star Buddy Hackett that sticks out like a sore thumb in these harmless surroundings. The lost pet angle may slightly disturb sensitive children. Paulie is mostly sweet-natured, forgettable family entertainment that will work equally as well on home video.
Recommended for family
viewing, with reservations
LOST IN SPACE (PG-13) _ This update of the 1960s sci-fi television series is much more sophisticated than its inspiration, which means the intergalactic violence is louder and more combustible but still not bloody. No nudity or sexual situations, but a hint of innuendo in some of the costumes and conversations between hunky Maj. Don West (Matt LeBlanc) and Judy Robinson (Heather Graham). Mature themes include more family dysfunction than the TV series ever suggested. Some scary sights could be nightmare material for sensitive children. A handful of harsh profanities are used for comic effect.
THE SPANISH PRISONER (PG) _ The MPAA rating indicates that there isn't much in David Mamet's movie that could offend parents or mislead children. True, there isn't any nudity, sex or violence, and only a dash of profanity. However, Mamet is a wordsmith who regularly puts great lines in the mouths of his ambitious, desperate characters, which means The Spanish Prisoner is too talky for viewers with short attention spans. Mamet crafts a superbly vague mystery that keeps you guessing, so older children may enjoy the gambit. Recommended for ages 13 and older.
Not recommended for family viewing
MR. NICE GUY (PG-13) _ Jackie Chan's latest action flick nearly qualifies for an R rating due to its fairly relentless violence, although it's relatively bloodless and more good-humored than sickening. There are still enough snapped bones, welted faces and firearms mayhem to make parents think twice about exposing their children to Chan's exciting screen persona. A handful of profanities are mostly played for laughs. One minor subplot concerns cocaine trafficking. No nudity or sexual content, although a couple of women are roughed up or chased in their underwear for a cheap thrill.
THE ODD COUPLE II (PG-13) _ Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau return as the original grumpy old men created by playwright Neil Simon. This sequel contains more sexual innuendo and crude speech than the 1967 movie version, including a couple of "f-words" from Lemmon that aren't necessary. Many of the one-liners deal with sexual potency, and there is a Thelma and Louise spoof that adds an uncomfortable hint of sex and violence. No nudity. Restless alert for TV-generation youngsters who may wonder why these guys took over the roles from Tony Randall and Jack Klugman.
_ STEVE PERSALL